U.N. envoy warns: Libya deal has to be signed now

U.N. envoy Bernardino Leon says Libya’s rival factions ‘continue to realize that the enemy in Libya is chaos’

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The U.N. secretary general’s special envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon, warned that Libya’s rival factions must hurry up and sign the U.N.-brokered deal after its texts were finalized or else their country will face more “chaos,” the envoy said in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent in New York Talal al-Haj.

Libya has had two parliaments and two governments since August 2014 when Islamist-backed militias seized Tripoli, prompting the internationally recognized government to take refuge in the far east of the country.

The U.N. meeting on Friday called to push all sides to come up with a new power-sharing authority that can start pulling the north African country out of the chaos that has spread since the 2011 fall of longtime dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi.

Leon, who met with the Libyan rival factions in New York, was asked if the meeting was open-ended or there was a higher limit of days for it to materialize, he said: “Well after the meeting this morning it is not anymore what I think.”

“I have to abide by what the members of the U.N. have told us this morning, and what they have told us this morning that we have to expedite the end of the process,” he said.

Expiring mandate

If the rivals do not “expedite” the process, Leon said a deal should be reached before Oct. 20, when the mandate of the internationally-recognized parliament expires.

“[The limit is] 20 October and the risk of getting in further chaos has to be prevented, and the way to do it is having this agreement now, having this government now, so the message is that we have little time and we have to try to reach this government ASAP,” he warned.

The United Nations has been piling pressure on Libyan factions to take the final step and make the appointments after months of difficult negotiations and missed deadlines.

Leon, however, expressed some positivity when he said: “All the participants are telling us that they understand the time has come to make this unity government where they can all work together,” adding “all parties continue to realize that the enemy in Libya is chaos.”

But if he has to answer out of experience of tough negotiations, “the fight up to the very last minute is to try to get what they want, or at least a result which is as close as possible to what they want. I can tell you that may be it will take more than one or two days.”

He warned, however, that the “chaos” in Libya is being used by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

“It is this chaos that is being used by daesh (ISIS), it is this chaos that is used by these mafias trafficking human beings, many of them are dying, so if the enemy’s chaos - the only way to face this chaos is through a unity government,” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that those who refuse to take part in the peace effort and “remain outside this framework will be responsible for the consequences and suffering that will ensue.”

Since last summer, some 435,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, of whom 100,000 now live in outdoor camps or abandoned buildings, the U.N. says.

(With AFP)

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